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Self-Awareness in the C-Suite

over 3 years ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
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As technology continues to pave the way for various industries worldwide, organisations join in the hunt to acquire the best talent in Tech and Finance to lead forward through digital innovation. Being able to communicate a strong employer brand is one of the initial ways of acquiring and retaining top talent, however a company is only as good as its people, and must therefore excel at instilling a sense of purpose and belonging in each and every employee at the organisation.

The C-Level Executive today holds a place of firm importance, resonating his or her energy to the rest of the company, therefore making it vital for them to lead with respect and confidence. With ample experience in their field and excellent managerial skills up their sleeves, such an individual must dedicate their time and effort to providing their team with motivation and guidance in order to gain higher ground over their competitors. In addition, as technology continues to digitalise companies’ services, the war for talent is more active than ever before, making a company’s sense of leadership a strong influence towards attracting high quality candidates. That being said, C-Level Executives must deploy a skillset which allows them to capture the right vision and lead to execute the right strategies, and this is were the characteristic of self-awareness comes into play.

Self-Awareness as an Essential Soft Skill

The soft skill of self awareness is one which is often taken for granted by most, however is a fundamental step for fulfilling one’s ambitions and successfully interacting with others. Individuals who are self-aware acknowledge that they must first care for and develop themselves before doing the same for others. Only by truly acknowledging one’s situation and surroundings, strengths and weaknesses, can one approach a given task with the right judgment and attitude, and this serves useful in both one’s personal and professional life. A leader who is self-aware is one who sees the bigger picture and is conscious in their thoughts and actions, able to perform tasks in a step-by-step manner. In addition, self-awareness allows one to realise their shortcomings. Being able to notice one’s weaknesses and pin-point any deficiencies in a team or their performance helps any leader to address these flaws and work to improve the current state of a team. That being said, the ability to identify weaknesses in an organisation gives one the opportunity to develop more informed strategic thinking. C-Suite Executives must possess excellent managerial skills, so being able to understand one’s colleagues helps them organise their people better and build better working relationships with them. The skill of people management demands a level of self-awareness in order for one to first recognise their people’s skills and strengths to better optimise the overall chemistry and performance of the team. Furthermore, self-awareness contributes to identifying top talent in recruitment, by being able to understand in which areas a company must improve and what type of expertise must be brought in to enhance operations.

Self-awareness is also a trait which rubs off on others, particularly at the workplace - being self-aware helps one control their emotions, making it easier to remain composed in tough situations and when under pressure. Therefore, a leader who displays a calm and composed personality is one who seems more approachable and understanding, making it easier for employees to speak up and interact with their leader, resulting in better communication and cooperation. As a result, a leader who displays self-awareness can grow in empathy, allowing them to better relate to others and offer advice and guidance. An individual in a managerial position who is self-aware is one who is both realistic and practical, generating a ‘what you see is what you get’ impression which makes them highly approachable at the place of work, deeming them more grounded and stable in their thoughts, words, and decisions. Moreover, leaders who deploy self-awareness are at one with themselves, meaning that transparency is never an issue. This benefits one’s reputation and makes them more trustworthy, a highly valuable trait for any leader, especially in a professional environment.

On a larger scale, self-awareness can help a C-Suite Executive interpret data better - for instance, by analysing and understanding any data on market or consumer behaviour, one can form a more precise plan when setting up a campaign or allocating a budget, as well as when looking to gain higher ground over competitors. Being in tune to what the consumer wants and needs and understanding patterns in market behaviour can help one tailor their services to such demands, differentiate themselves to the competition and bring more value to the market through more innovative product and service solutions.

Being self-aware helps C-Suite Executives be more disciplined, allowing them to evaluate better any given circumstance and be ready to act upon their decisions more effectively. Further to this, such a sense of discipline helps one distinguish more clearly between what is right and what is wrong, helping one know when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in any situation. This proves to be a highly favoured skill for any individual seeking to secure a managerial role, let alone for anyone in a C-Suite position.

All in all

The essence of effective leadership requires self-awareness to channel one’s thoughts clearly and be in tune to all their surroundings to form a better approach when managing people and organisations. Self-awareness helps shape a stronger sense of confidence and certainty moving forward, and besides this, also contributes to one’s stability when making decisions both personally and professionally. Ultimately, this type of emotional intelligence is a factor which sets apart one C-Level candidate from another, although, unlike other soft skills, is rather challenging to identify at first glance since.

However, one thing which is certain is that self-awareness positively and greatly contributes to a more vast range of soft skills, such as interpersonal, management, strategic and problem solving, meaning that an individual who possesses such a range of skills is also highly likely to be one who deploys self-awareness in their day-to-day tasks.